There’s no area to maneuver contained in the Spodek. Fans from around the globe have flocked right here to witness Counter-Strike: Global Offensive historical past. The ardour for Valve’s aggressive shooter runs so excessive that many are prepared to face within the walkways and sit behind the stage – something to get a glimpse of the Intel Extreme Masters Katowice winners.
This is the scene contained in the the Polish stadium on Sunday night. A full-capacity crowd, voices at full blow, assist set the tone for a historic closing that received’t be forgotten in a rush. It’s moments like this at IEM Katowice that make CS:GO the most effective esports to look at.
This yr’s first Major has a watershed second through the memes-to-dreams run of ENCE. The Finnish superteam defeats Liquid and MIBR – the world’s second and third greatest groups – to get to the Major closing, making a storyline nobody was anticipating. Opposing groups underestimate the Finns and are punished consequently, ENCE’s laborious work on the server rewarded with one other key ingredient at any match – the gang’s loyalty.
Like most of the lots of of hundreds at residence, the followers contained in the Spodek fall for ENCE. Everyone loves an underdog story, and on this Polish fairytale, they’re very a lot David going up in opposition to a Counter-Strike Goliath. The crowd cheer for each kill and each spherical, chants of their identify and the now common slogan, EZ4ENCE reverberating off the partitions and ground.
Image credit score: ESL and Adela Sznajder
ENCE’s map decide, Train, is first up, and though Astralis takes an early lead, the Finns rapidly get again on the rails. Tantalising AWP battles between Nicolai ‘dev1ce’ Reedtz and Aleksi ‘allu’ Jalli ensue, however Astralis’s expertise on the large stage exhibits. After profitable Train 16-11, Astralis takes ENCE to activity on Inferno – one of many staff’s greatest maps. The Danes set up an early dominance with ENCE not truly capable of convert till spherical 11. But the injury has been achieved by this level, and the deficit turns into too massive for the ENCE boys to take care of. After two unbelievable matches, the Kings of Counter-Strike add yet one more Major win to their resumes.
His dying want was that his son would go to Katowice and carry the trophy
The Finns aren’t capable of take their first ever Major win however the end result issues little within the wake of their surprising efficiency. Astralis has lengthy been tipped to win it anyway. We are, in spite of everything, very a lot within the Astralis period: their unbelievable utility utilization shapes the way in which the game is performed, and their jaw-dropping data on maps like Nuke and Inferno reveal simply how good the staff is true now. The impression of ENCE coming as shut because it does will possible have a serious impression on the esports scene in time.
Image credit score: ESL and Bart Oerbekke
But ENCE’s isn’t the one uplifting story this yr. Astralis’s Major run truly took an enormous hit early on as the daddy of one of many staff’s core members, Peter ‘dupreeh’ Rasmussen, died simply days earlier than the match. His dying want was that his son would go to Katowice and carry the trophy. His teammates rallied round him, vowing to say the title for dupreeh and his father, lending the profitable second an emotional resonance.
“Losing my father was really tough, and I had a really big doubt with myself about whether I should go or not,” dupreeh reveals after the win. “Coming here and being with my team, and being around the people I spend most of my life with, has definitely helped me through this, and talking with all my family back home. The fact you go to a place where you know you can perform, and all the comments and all the love I’ve gotten from other players has definitely helped me. I’m just happy that I’ve fulfilled my father’s wish.”
The closing may not have been as thrilling as final yr’s seven-hour epic, however the story of ENCE’s rise and fall, and Astralis profitable back-to-back Majors to honour one extremely proud father, is an epic in itself.
Image credit score: ESL and Adela Sznajder
So what’s subsequent for Astralis? Last yr, the Danes sailed out to sea on a warship to plan their season objectives out in meticulous element. They achieved the aim of profitable a Major and turning into the primary Grand Slam champions, and don’t have any need to decelerate.
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“You can never adjust your goals to something less than it was last year, so we had to motivate and push ourselves really hard,” main AWPer dev1ce says throughout a press convention. “As you know, last year we had a really amazing year, so to build on that is tough, but a win here has proven that it’s possible – and we’re going to go even harder from now on.”
The gauntlet has been thrown down. But this Major proves that viable competitors is on the market – ENCE simply must rise above its present degree to tackle these giants. I, for one, can’t wait to see what occurs subsequent.
Header picture credit score: ESL and Adela Sznajder